Former Wallaby Julian Huxley says players need to take responsibility in their well being when deciding on flexible contract arrangements.
With a new era of Australian rugby beginning to dawn that will see some Wallabies playing effectively all year round, with options for stints in both Japan and France between Super Rugby seasons.
It’s an option that three World Cup Wallabies have taken up this year in Bernard Foley, Ben McCalman and Israel Folau though injury ruled out the latter from fulfilling his Japanese contract this time around.
Huxley said the new contracts were getting close to the right balance, with players able to maximise their value in a short-term career, but also needing to be honest about their physical capabilities.
“The flexi contracts, that’s going to be great for the players and hopefully it’ll help keep the best players in Australia because they can earn so much more overseas,” he said.
“Having said that it’s going to put them at much greater risk of burnout and coming back without the opportunity to really (rest), the chance that they’ll have weaknesses in their bodies and burnout is a big one.
“It’s not ideal but it’s a system that is a good compromise on a number of fronts in trying to keep our best talent here but letting them earn what the market says they’re worth.
"Player well-being is one thing that I think the players have to look at that ,it’s obviously their body but when they’re getting really significant financial incentives, they’ll put their hand up and say, 'I can do it, I’ll do it'.”
Huxley said franchises needed to help manage the return of these players as well but it was critical for keeping players in Australia.
“The other thing is how you then bring those players back if they’re exhausted and straight into a team. will they be performing to the level they need to be,” he said.
“Also how do you make room for them from a guy who’s spent the last six months there working his butt off, what does that do for your team culture...if someone can just walk back in and take the spot.
“There’s a whole heap of give and take and pros and cons in that whole scenario.
‘It’s a juggling act but with a bit of strategy and common sense they can make it work for Australian rugby to keep our best talent in Australia.”
Since his playing career, Huxley has moved on to the coaching arena, this season involved in coaching the North Harbour Rays and also set to play a role with the clipboard at the Warringah Rats in the Shute Shield competition.